Retiring from TriMark in February of this year has given me the chance to reflect on the industry and my career.
When I was in middle school, a friend asked what I was going to do when I grew up. I replied that I was going to take over the family business. Funny, I still remember the conversation, but I do not recall ever discussing these aspirations with my father, Ken Gill, who owned the Gill Companies. Maybe it was just assumed. I never wavered from that goal, and on my journey through college, I kept my career compass pointed toward the foodservice equipment industry.
My path was not a straight one to the Gill Companies. Instead, I worked in sales for two foodservice equipment manufacturers, then started a manufacturers’ rep firm with one of my best friends that I met while working at a manufacturer before eventually finding my way home to the Gill Companies and later to TriMark. I am passionate about this industry and sought leadership opportunities where I could give back. You see, this industry has been good to our family, and giving back seemed so small in comparison. I have watched so many step into leadership roles in our respective trade organizations and commit their time and knowledge. I encourage all to find a way to serve and support our industry; as we help others grow, we grow too.
I grew up in the business, so to speak, but also know many that have found their way here and created a career in this industry. Regardless of how people find this incredible industry, they do not want to leave. For so many, the foodservice equipment industry has become home. Why is that? What is the draw? It is the people, passion, purpose and sheer entrepreneurism that is so prevalent in our businesses.
It is a small industry. It is a social industry. It is a fun industry. And it is a challenging industry. There’s no school that can teach you the ins and outs of the foodservice equipment and supplies business. For this industry to stay vibrant we need to continue to encourage young and talented people to join us. Experiencing the industry’s hospitality makes it difficult to leave. The pull is strong. We are social creatures, and we want to have a glass of wine or cup of coffee at a restaurant; we want to be in the front row to cheer on our favorite sports team, go to a concert, fly somewhere, and go on vacation or to a conference: These are our customers. This industry is the hub of all things hospitality related.
Our industry has been hard hit by the pandemic as have most of our social venues; whether it be a hotel, restaurant, or an event venue, all have experienced partial or full shutdown during this past year. Yet here we are, strong, resilient and open for business. Yes, it was a hard year, one for the record books; we will look back and know that through the hardship, we came out stronger. Ours is a dynamic industry, and we will continue to find better and faster ways of servicing our customers and will flourish. Our future is bright.
We are indeed #IndustryStrong.